OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – A court hearing was held Friday morning to discuss new motions presented by Everett Miller’s attorneys after he was convicted of first-degree murder.
The defense presented motions to set aside the jury’s death recommendation, set a new trial and interview the jurors.
“I would ask to interview the jurors not to their decision making, but if there was any bullying going on with juror 122,” defense attorney Rosanne Eckert said.
Attorneys allege that the jurors were given “defective” instructions and “zero guidance” about mitigating factors before deliberating.
State prosecutors denied that was the case in a six-page response.
"I also think it's improper to go back and question them about why they may have done that," State Attorney Brad King said.
During the hearing, the judge denied the defense’s request to set aside the death recommendation and receive a new trial. The judge mentioned that jurors were well informed on the rules and directions before beginning deliberations.
"Based upon the record in this case, I do not believe the jurors didn't understand what a mitigating circumstance was," Judge Greg Tynan said. "The court is going to deny the record for a death recommendation and the motion for a new trial."
The court also denied defense’s requests to interview jurors, after the court believed there was no evidence that jurors were being bullied during the deliberating process.
Miller is due back in court for a Spencer hearing on April 1 at 9 a.m.
The hearing will give defendants an opportunity to provide additional evidence to change the penalties imposed by sentencing.
Miller was found guilty in November of first-degree murder in the deaths of Kissimmee Police Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard on Aug. 17, 2017.
Members of the jury heard closing arguments during the penalty phase of Everett Miller’s first-degree murder trial and deliberations began shortly after 11 a.m. with a decision being reached by 4:30 p.m.
“I understand families are destroyed on both sides of this issue, but I think based on the jury’s recommendation and their findings today that justice was done,” Assistant State Attorney Ryan Williams said after the jury’s recommendation.
After the hearing, News 6 spoke with Officer Baxter’s widow, Sadia Baxter, who noted how she’s just ready for closure for herself and her family.